Pastor’s Pen 29th July 2018

Shalom. Let God speak afresh into your heart and remind you of the dreams you have.

God desires us to walk in the fullness of his intention for us. The limiting aspect of this isn’t God, it’s us. Often we begin passionate for the things God shows us, the dream of becoming who God calls us to be. But this requires sacrifice, commitment and a belief that God’s will is the best way to go.
I’m not sure how it happens but somewhere on the way I see some, too many if truth be known, settle for less than they say they want. They convince themselves that they can’t do that which they were so convinced about before. Some think they’ve grown up, seeing the reality of life and settle into the plan that is normative. They persuade themselves that the dream was never meant to be more than a dream. They become content, complacent, consumer driven. God becomes someone who serves their needs and blesses their plans, the Holy Spirit provides them with buzzes and emotional highs. They become disillusioned and some give up on church because it’s not what they’re looking for.
Not surprising, because this is never what the Christian journey should be. It will be challenging, it will be fun, scary, exhilarating, growing but it shouldn’t be boring.
Jesus invited us to bear our cross daily. To deny our own natural inclination and to obey the challenge to discover his desire for you. To be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guiding.
You see, I reckon a lot give up, because they stop seeking the kingdom and instead seek all those things that will be.
Because God calls each of us to journey with him. This we do as individuals in community en masse on our own.
Confusing? I sometimes find it is. Whilst we often act out our faith in community and discover our purpose alongside others, it is a profoundly intimate call to encounter God for yourself that fully releases us to be that person God creaed us to be. We cannot abdicate the responsibility, the privilege of this discovery to others and simply allow someone to tell you who you are in God. They may confirm, encourage, nurture and release that discovery, but it should always be something each of us discover and affirm to ourselves.
Also true is the reality that we can’t do it on our own. We must engage in this process in community, both large and small. Community allows the vessel of my deeds to be carried, but my attitude and relationship dtermines what those deeds are and how well they’re recieved. Community provides a context and a setting for my faith to grow; but it is my relationship with my saviour that fuels a true authentic growth.
Our communitty needs each one of us because each one of us forms, informs, reforms and transforms our community to respond to, engage and embrace the work of the Holy Spirit amongst and in us.

May this week see you encounter a transformation in some area of your life. Embrace both the change and the journey that gets you there.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 22nd July 2018

Shalom. May you discover the rest and healing found in abiding with Christ.
Last week I was diagnosed with shingles, so it’s been an interesting week where I’ve had to rest up a bit and take it easy. I know that apparently men don’t normally cope with pain well, so maybe my years in ministry have helped but it’s been copable (is that a word?)!
So I’ve been able to spend bit of time considering Shalom this week… Shalom – a good word I think. We translate it as peace, but it’s more than that. It’s a blessing that seeks all of God’s goodness in every aspect of your life.
As a Christian, it is probably easiest translated as “may you be Christ-like in all places, at all times and experience all that Christ has for you in His richest, fullest and abundant goodness”.
While we need to spend good time in the Scriptures, for nothing can replace that; we also need to simply spend time with Jesus and flowing from that … others.
I think it’s safe to say we all want to know Jesus better and flowing from this, each other. This is essentially described as ‘building relationships and experiencing fellowship”.
I call this lingering with intent and loitering with purpose, and it is necessary today. But it can be very hard at times; largely, I believe, because it can feel like we’re wasting time. But is it ever a waste to spend time with people and especially Jesus? I think it’s a little bit to do with being effective more than efficient. Admittedly, we need to find a balance, because there are things we need to do, at work, study or at home. But one of my challenges is to try and be deliberate with my lingering and loitering. I want to feel that Shalom more than I do now. I’m hungry for more of what God wants, because I’m not yet satisfied fully with all I have, because I know that there is more.
Do you understand what I mean? It’s like I’ve got this Holy Discontent and it’s threatening my comfortableness. I yearn to see more of God moving and whispering, more of His power and might, more of his healing and wisdom and I’m just gonna have to keep on pressing into him, lingering and loitering, till it comes.
I would like to invite you to also ‘waste time’ doing the same?

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 15th July 2018

Shalom. I trust you are changed by your time here today as you seek to respond to God and His presence amongst us in this part of Gods church we call Whitianga Baptist.
Our Christian journey is fraught with challenges, opportunities, joys, upset, highs and lows. Often these opposites are in the same situation and are dependent on how we respond. For while God is always in control, we always have choice. It is true that our choice leads to our maturity, for we need to choose, by faith, at times when it may seem to be the opposite; to believe that God is in control.
Scripture tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. How do we grow faith? Faith comes with understanding; understanding by doing; doing by being; being through relationship.
Firstly, we must choose to relate, to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ; by coming to the cross and realizing the reality of what happened there. Then from that relationship come deeds, not done from obligation or duty, but from gratitude and appreciation. From these thankful deeds comes understanding as they impact our life – note, these deeds can include reading your bible, prayer, acts of kindness, service, church attendance. Understanding leads to a deeper revelation and appreciation of Jesus and who he is and what he has done. This leads to a desire to want to be in relationship with Him…
All of this process needs to be carried out in community. The best community to do it in is the one Christ created at Pentecost – the church. Is the church perfect? Me Genoito, of course not! But then again, it is. At times when we work together, love together, worship together and serve together we can have a foretaste of heaven. This is because we are called to be God’s kingdom on earth. The church isn’t about finding people just like you; it’s about finding people who want to be just like Jesus, and they might be completely different from you. After all, how much like Jesus are you, how much am I?
Remember God loves you just the way you are. But He refuses to leave you that way, He wants you to be just like Jesus.
Have a Jesus infested week.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 8th July 2018

Shalom. I trust God will meet you as you meet Him. It is a truth that God blesses what we give Him, so my question for all of us today is… What have we brought with us for worship?
This is essentially a question that begs but one answer. Us, ourselves, you, me, our ‘congregation’ together, this is what, or whom, we bring to worship today, and this is what we have come to do and be, this is our act of service: A people who seek after God and His heart.
‘However, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear their prayer from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their country. (2Ch 7:14)’

‘I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will hear you. When you look for me, you will find me. When you wholeheartedly seek me, I will let you find me, declares the LORD. I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I’ve scattered you, declares the LORD. I will bring you back from the place where you are being held captive. (Jer 29:11-14)’

It is a part of our mandate to seek God, to seek his heart, and in doing so discover our true hearts. For it was to restore our heart that Jesus came, to restore us to relationship and true unity with God and each other
‘The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind– Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. (John 17:21)’

This unity isn’t confined to one local church, but encompasses God’s kingdom on earth. While it is important that we have unity here at Whitianga Baptist as a congregation, it can’t stop there; we must be willing and able to embrace the wider church and see our commonalities, which is, to put it simply, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, sent by God the Father to redeem us, now gone back to the Father and who has sent the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort and counsel us in following Him.
Jesus came to redeem our hearts, our soul and our mind, which is how we can love Him with all of those attributes. (Matt 22:37). Yet so often we try to simply make it a head thing and struggle with it. It needs to begin in our heart and radiate from there.
Our faith is primarily an issue of the heart, our unity is the same and so is our worship. God is primarily relational towards us, and we should primarily be relational towards him. So what, or whom, did you bring to worship today and how will you express that towards Him?

Bless ya
Pastor Mike